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Kentucky
Commonwealth of Kentucky
Flag of Kentucky Official seal of Kentucky
Nickname(s): 
Bluegrass State
Motto(s): 
United we stand, divided we fall
Deo gratiam habeamus
(Let us be grateful to God)
Anthem: My Old Kentucky Home
Map of the United States with Kentucky highlighted
Map of the United States with Kentucky highlighted
Country United States
Before statehood Part of Virginia (District of Kentucky)
Admitted to the Union June 1, 1792 (15th)
Capital Frankfort
Largest city Louisville
Largest metro Louisville
Legislature Kentucky General Assembly
 • Upper house Senate
 • Lower house House of Representatives
Area
 • Total 42,069 sq mi (104,656 km2)
 • Land 39,486 sq mi (102,269 km2)
 • Water 921 sq mi (2,387 km2)  2.2%
Area rank 37th
Dimensions
 • Length 397 mi (640 km)
 • Width 187 mi (302 km)
Elevation
750 ft (230 m)
Highest elevation 4,145 ft (1,265 m)
Lowest elevation
(Mississippi River at Kentucky Bend)
250 ft (78 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 4,509,342
 • Rank 26th
 • Density 110/sq mi (42.5/km2)
 • Density rank 21st
 • Median household income
$52,295
 • Income rank
44th
Demonym(s) Kentuckian
Language
 • Official language English
Time zones
eastern half UTC−05:00 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−04:00 (EDT)
western half UTC−06:00 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−05:00 (CDT)
USPS abbreviation
KY
ISO 3166 code US-KY
Trad. abbreviation Ky
Latitude 36° 30′ N to 39° 09′ N
Longitude 81° 58′ W to 89° 34′ W
Kentucky state symbols
Flag of Kentucky.svg
Seal of Kentucky.svg
Living insignia
Bird Cardinal
Butterfly Viceroy butterfly
Wildlife animal Gray squirrel
Fish Kentucky spotted bass
Flower Goldenrod
Horse breed Thoroughbred
Insect Western honeybee
Tree Tulip poplar
Inanimate insignia
Beverage Milk
Dance Clogging
Food Blackberry
Fossil Brachiopod
Gemstone Freshwater pearl
Mineral Coal
Rock Kentucky agate
Slogan Kentucky Unbridled Spirit
Soil Crider Soil Series
Other Chevrolet Corvette (state sports car)
State route marker
Kentucky state route marker
State quarter
Kentucky quarter dollar coin
Released in 2001
Lists of United States state symbols

Kentucky ( kən-TUK-ee ken-), officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, is a state in the Southeastern region of the United States, bordered by Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio to the north; West Virginia and Virginia to the east; Tennessee to the south; and Missouri to the west. The Commonwealth's northern border is defined by the Ohio River. Its capital is Frankfort, and its two largest cities are Louisville and Lexington. The state's population in 2020 was approximately 4.5 million.

Kentucky was admitted into the Union as the 15th state on June 1, 1792, splitting from Virginia in the process. It is known as the "Bluegrass State", a nickname based on Kentucky bluegrass, a species of grass found in many of its pastures, which has supported the thoroughbred horse industry in the center of the state. Historically, it was known for excellent farming conditions for this reason. Kentucky ranks 5th nationally in goat farming, 8th in beef cattle production, and 14th in corn production. Kentucky has also been a long-standing major center of the tobacco industry. Today, Kentucky's economy has expanded to importance in non-agricultural sectors, including auto manufacturing, energy fuel production, and medical facilities. The state ranks 4th among U.S. states in the number of automobiles and trucks assembled.

The state is home to the world's longest cave system in Mammoth Cave National Park, as well as the greatest length of navigable waterways and streams in the contiguous United States and the two largest man-made lakes east of the Mississippi River. Kentucky is also known for its unique blended culture, which includes horse racing, bourbon, moonshine, coal, "My Old Kentucky Home" historic state park, automobile manufacturing, tobacco, bluegrass music, college basketball, Louisville Slugger baseball bats, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and the Kentucky colonel.

Etymology

In 1776, the counties of Virginia beyond the Appalachian Mountains became known as Kentucky County, named for the Kentucky River.

Geography

Map of Kentucky NA (cropped)
A map of Kentucky

Kentucky is situated in the Upland South. A significant portion of eastern Kentucky is part of Appalachia.

Kentucky borders seven states, from the Midwest and the Southeast. West Virginia lies to the east, Virginia to the southeast, Tennessee to the south, Missouri to the west, Illinois and Indiana to the northwest, and Ohio to the north and northeast. Only Missouri and Tennessee, both of which border eight states, touch more.

Kentucky's northern border is formed by the Ohio River and its western border by the Mississippi River.

The official state borders are based on the courses of the rivers as they existed when Kentucky became a state in 1792 but some parts of the river have deviated since then.

Regions

KYphysiography
Kentucky's regions (click on image for color-coding information.)

Kentucky can be divided into five primary regions: the Cumberland Plateau in the east, the north-central Bluegrass region, the south-central and western Pennyroyal Plateau (also known as the Pennyrile or Mississippi Plateau), the Western Coal Fields and the far-west Jackson Purchase.

The Bluegrass region is commonly divided into two regions, the Inner Bluegrass—the encircling 90 miles (145 km) around Lexington—and the Outer Bluegrass—the region that contains most of the northern portion of the state, above the Knobs. Much of the outer Bluegrass is in the Eden Shale Hills area, made up of short, steep, and very narrow hills.

View from Pine Mountain (Kentucky)
The Eastern Kentucky Coalfield is known for its rugged terrain.
Kentucky horse farm
Kentucky's Inner Bluegrass region features hundreds of horse farms.
Metropolis Lake
Metropolis Lake

The Jackson Purchase and western Pennyrile are home to several bald cypress/tupelo swamps.

Climate

Located within the southeastern interior portion of North America, Kentucky has a climate that can best be described as a humid subtropical climate.

Temperatures in Kentucky usually range from daytime summer highs of 87 °F (31 °C) to the winter low of 23 °F (−5 °C).

Due to its location, Kentucky has a moderate humid subtropical climate, with abundant rainfall. Temperatures extremely seldom drop below 0 degrees or rise above 100 degrees.

Rain and snowfall totals about 45 inches per year.

The northern parts tend to be about 5 degrees cooler than those in western parts of the state.

In general, Kentuckians experience relatively humid warm rainy summers, and moderately cold and snowy winters.

Lakes and rivers

See also: List of rivers of Kentucky
Wolf Creek Dam and Lake Cumberland, KY
Lake Cumberland is the largest artificial American lake east of the Mississippi River by volume.

Kentucky has more navigable miles of water than any other state in the union, other than Alaska.

Kentucky is the only U.S. state to have a continuous border of rivers running along three of its sides—the Mississippi River to the west, the Ohio River to the north, and the Big Sandy River and Tug Fork to the east.

Its major internal rivers include the Kentucky River, Tennessee River, Cumberland River, Green River and Licking River.

Though it has only three major natural lakes, Kentucky is home to many artificial lakes. Kentucky has both the largest artificial lake east of the Mississippi in water volume (Lake Cumberland) and surface area (Kentucky Lake).

Kentucky's 90,000 miles (140,000 km) of streams provides one of the most expansive and complex stream systems in the nation.

Natural environment and conservation

WaterfrontPkDwnt
Once an industrial wasteland, Louisville's reclaimed waterfront now features thousands of trees and miles of walking trails.

Kentucky has an expansive park system, which includes one national park, two National Recreation areas, two National Historic Parks, two national forests, two National Wildlife Refuges, 45 state parks, 37,696 acres (153 km2) of state forest, and 82 Wildlife Management Areas.

Kentucky has been part of two of the most successful wildlife reintroduction projects in United States history. In the winter of 1997, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources began to re-stock elk in the state's eastern counties, which had been extinct from the area for over 150 years. As of 2009, the herd had reached the project goal of 10,000 animals, making it the largest herd east of the Mississippi River.

The state also stocked wild turkeys in the 1950s. There were reported to be less than 900 at one point. Once nearly extinct here, wild turkeys thrive throughout today's Kentucky. Hunters officially reported a record 29,006 birds taken during the 23-day season in Spring 2009.

A female gray wolf shot in 2013 in Hart County, Kentucky by a hunter was the first verified sighting of the species in Kentucky in modern times.

Natural attractions

Half Moon, Kentucky
Red River Gorge is one of Kentucky's most visited places
Otter Creek Park 2
Forest at Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area, Meade County, Kentucky

History

French explorers in the 17th century documented numerous tribes living in Kentucky until the Beaver Wars in the 1670s. However, by the time that European colonial explorers and settlers began entering Kentucky in greater numbers in the mid-18th century, there were no major Native American settlements in the region. The Iroquois had controlled much of the Ohio River valley for hunting from their bases in what is now New York.

The Shawnee from the northwest and Cherokee from the south also sent parties into the area regularly for hunting. As more settlers entered the area, warfare broke out because the Native Americans considered the settlers to be encroaching on their traditional hunting grounds. Today there are two state recognized tribes in Kentucky, the Southern Cherokee Nation of Kentucky and the Ridgetop Shawnee.

A 1790 U.S. government report states that 1,500 Kentucky settlers had been killed by Native Americans since the end of the Revolutionary War. In 1786, George Rogers Clark led a group of 1,200 men in actions against Shawnee towns on the Wabash River to begin the Northwest Indian War.

On December 31, 1776, the region of Virginia beyond the Appalachian Mountains was established as Kentucky County by the Virginia General Assembly.

On December 18, 1789, Virginia gave its consent to Kentucky statehood. The United States Congress gave its approval on February 4, 1791. Kentucky officially became the fifteenth state in the Union on June 1, 1792. Isaac Shelby, a military veteran from Virginia, was elected its first Governor.

19th century

U.S. Marine Hospital, Louisville, Kentucky
Designed by the Washington Monument's architect Robert Mills in 1845, the U.S. Marine Hospital in Louisville is considered the best extant antebellum hospital in the country.

Central Kentucky, the bluegrass region, was the area of the state with the most slave owners, as planters cultivated tobacco and hemp and were noted for their quality livestock. During the 19th century, Kentucky slaveholders began to sell unneeded slaves to the Deep South, with Louisville becoming a major slave market and departure port for slaves being transported downriver.

Kentucky was one of the border states during the American Civil War. Although frequently described as never having seceded, representatives from several counties met at Russellville calling themselves the "Convention of the People of Kentucky" and passed an Ordinance of Secession on November 20, 1861. They established a Confederate government of Kentucky with its capital in Bowling Green.

Though Kentucky was represented by the central star on the Confederate battle flag, it remained officially "neutral" throughout the war due to the Union sympathies of a significant number of the Commonwealth's citizens.

Both Confederate President Jefferson Davis and U.S. President Abraham Lincoln were born in Kentucky.

On January 30, 1900, Governor William Goebel, flanked by two bodyguards, was mortally wounded by an assassin while walking to the State Capitol in downtown Frankfort. Goebel is the only governor of a U.S. state to have been assassinated while in office.

20th century

William Goebel statue
Statue of William Goebel in Frankfort

The Black Patch Tobacco Wars, a vigilante action, occurred in Western Kentucky in the early 20th century. As a result of the tobacco industry monopoly, tobacco farmers in the area were forced to sell their crops at prices that were too low. Many local farmers and activists united in a refusal to sell their crops to the major tobacco companies.

An Association meeting occurred in downtown Guthrie, where a vigilante wing of "Night Riders", formed. The riders terrorized farmers who sold their tobacco at the low prices demanded by the tobacco corporations. They burned several tobacco warehouses throughout the area, stretching as far west as Hopkinsville to Princeton. In the later period of their operation, they were known to physically assault farmers who broke the boycott. Governor Augustus E. Willson declared martial law and deployed the Kentucky National Guard to end the wars.

Demographics

Kentucky population map
Kentucky Population Density Map
Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 73,677
1800 220,955 199.9%
1810 406,511 84.0%
1820 564,317 38.8%
1830 687,917 21.9%
1840 779,828 13.4%
1850 982,405 26.0%
1860 1,155,684 17.6%
1870 1,321,011 14.3%
1880 1,648,690 24.8%
1890 1,858,635 12.7%
1900 2,147,174 15.5%
1910 2,289,905 6.6%
1920 2,416,630 5.5%
1930 2,614,589 8.2%
1940 2,845,627 8.8%
1950 2,944,806 3.5%
1960 3,038,156 3.2%
1970 3,218,706 5.9%
1980 3,660,777 13.7%
1990 3,685,296 0.7%
2000 4,041,769 9.7%
2010 4,339,367 7.4%
2020 4,505,836 3.8%
Sources: 1790–2000
1910–2020

The United States Census Bureau determined that the population of Kentucky was 4,505,836 in 2020, increasing since the 2010 United States census.

As of July 1, 2016, Kentucky had an estimated population of 4,436,974, which is an increase of 12,363 from the prior year and an increase of 97,607, or 2.2%, since the year 2010. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 73,541 people (that is 346,968 births minus 273,427 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 26,135 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 40,051 people, and migration within the country produced a net decrease of 13,916 people. As of 2015, Kentucky's population included about 149,016 foreign-born persons (3.4%). In 2016 the population density of the state was 110 people per square mile (42.5/km2).

Kentucky's population has grown during every decade since records have been kept. But during most decades of the 20th century there was also net out-migration from Kentucky. Since 1900, rural Kentucky counties have had a net loss of more than a million people to migration, while urban areas have experienced a slight net gain.

Kentucky's center of population is in Washington County, in the city of Willisburg.

Race and ancestry

Ethnic composition as of the 2020 census
Race and Ethnicity Alone Total
Non-Hispanic White/Anglo 81.3% 81.3
 
85.0% 85
 
African American 7.9% 7.9
 
9.4% 9.4
 
Hispanic or Latino 4.6% 4.6
 
Asian 1.6% 1.6
 
2.1% 2.1
 
Native American 0.2% 0.2
 
1.8% 1.8
 
Pacific Islander 0.1% 0.1
 
0.2% 0.2
 
Other 0.3% 0.3
 
0.9% 0.9
 
Historical racial demographics
Racial composition 1990 2000 2015 (Est.)
White 92.0% 90.1% 87.8%
Black 7.1% 7.3% 7.8%
Asian 0.5% 0.7% 1.1%
Native American and
Alaska Native
0.2% 0.2% 0.2%
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander
0.1%
Other race 0.2% 0.6% 1.3%
Two or more races 1.0% 1.7%

According to U.S. Census Bureau official statistics, the largest ancestry in 2013 was American totalling 20.2%. In 1980, before the status of ethnic American was an available option on the official census, the largest claimed ancestries in the commonwealth were English (49.6%), Irish (26.3%), and German (24.2%). In the state's most urban counties of Jefferson, Oldham, Fayette, Boone, Kenton, and Campbell, German is the largest reported ancestry. Americans of Scots-Irish and English stock are present throughout the entire state. Many residents claim Irish ancestry because of known "Scots-Irish" among their ancestors, who immigrated from Ireland, where their ancestors had moved for a period from Scotland during the plantation period.

As of the 1980s, the only counties in the United States where over half of the population cited "English" as their only ancestry group were in the hills of eastern Kentucky (virtually every county in this region had a majority of residents identifying as exclusively English in ancestry).

The Ridgetop Shawnee organized in the early 21st century as a non-profit to gain structure for their community and increase awareness of Native Americans in Kentucky. In the 2000 census, some 20,000 people in the state identified as Native American (0.49%). In June 2011, Jerry "2 Feather" Thornton, a Cherokee, led a team in the Voyage of Native American Awareness 2011 canoe journey, to begin on the Green River in Rochester, Kentucky and travel through to the Ohio River at Henderson.

African Americans, who were mostly enslaved at the time, made up 25% of Kentucky's population before the Civil War; they were held and worked primarily in the central Bluegrass region, an area of hemp and tobacco cultivation, as well as raising blooded livestock. The number of African Americans living in Kentucky declined during the 20th century. Many migrated during the early part of the century to the industrial North and Midwest during the Great Migration for jobs and the chance to leave the segregated, oppressive societies. Today, less than 9% of the state's total population is African-American.

The state's African-American population is highly urbanized and 52% of them live in the Louisville metropolitan area; 44.2% of them reside in Jefferson County. The county's population is 20% African American. Other areas with high concentrations, besides Christian and Fulton counties and the Bluegrass region, are the cities of Paducah and Lexington. Some mining communities in far Southeastern Kentucky have populations that are between five and 10 percent African-American.

Language

In 2000 96.1% of all residents five years old and older spoke only English at home, a decrease from 97.5% in 1990.

Speech patterns in the state generally reflect the first settlers' Virginia and Kentucky backgrounds. South Midland features are best preserved in the mountains, with Southern in most other areas of Kentucky, but some common to Midland and Southern are widespread. After a vowel, the /r/ may be weak or missing. For instance, Coop has the vowel of put, but the root rhymes with boot. In southern Kentucky, earthworms are called redworms, a burlap bag is known as a tow sack or the Southern grass sack, and green beans are called snap beans. In Kentucky English, a young man may carry, not escort, his girlfriend to a party.

Spanish is the second-most-spoken language in Kentucky, after English.

Religion

See also: Religion in Louisville, Kentucky
CollegeoftheBible-LexKY
Lexington Theological Seminary (then College of the Bible), 1904
Religion in Kentucky (2014)
Religion Percent
Protestant
  
65%
No religion
  
22%
Catholic
  
10%
Other faith
  
2%

As of 2010, the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) reported the following groupings of Kentucky's 4,339,367 residents:

Kentucky is home to several seminaries. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville is the principal seminary for the Southern Baptist Convention. Louisville is also the home of the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, an institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Lexington has one seminary, Lexington Theological Seminary (affiliated with the Disciples of Christ). The Baptist Seminary of Kentucky is located on the campus of Georgetown College in Georgetown. Asbury Theological Seminary, a multi-denominational seminary in the Methodist tradition, is located in nearby Wilmore.

In addition to seminaries, there are several colleges affiliated with denominations:

  • In Louisville, Bellarmine University and Spalding University are affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.
  • In Lexington, Transylvania University is affiliated with the Disciples of Christ.
  • In Owensboro, Kentucky Wesleyan College is associated with the United Methodist Church, and Brescia University is associated with the Roman Catholic Church.
  • In Pikeville, the University of Pikeville is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA).
  • In Wilmore, Asbury University (a separate institution from the seminary) is associated with the Christian College Consortium.
  • The Baptist denomination is associated with several colleges:
  • Grayson in Carter County is home to Kentucky Christian University which is affiliated with the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ.
  • The Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani is located in Bardstown, Kentucky. Author Thomas Merton, known as a social activist, worked to reconcile Christianity with other major religions, had converted to Catholicism as a young man, and became a Trappist monk; he lived and worked here from 1941 until his death in 1968.

Louisville is home to the Cathedral of the Assumption, the third-oldest Catholic cathedral in continuous use in the United States. The city also holds the headquarters of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and their printing press. Reflecting late 19th, 20th and 21st-century immigration from different countries, Louisville also has Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu communities.

In 1996 the Center for Interfaith Relations established the Festival of Faiths, the first and oldest annual interfaith festival to be held in the United States.

The Christian creationist apologetics group, Answers in Genesis, along with its Creation Museum, is headquartered in Petersburg, Kentucky.

Transport

Roads

Kentucky is served by six major interstate highways.

The parkways were originally toll roads, but on November 22, 2006, Governor Ernie Fletcher ended the toll charges on the William H. Natcher Parkway and the Audubon Parkway, the last two parkways in Kentucky to charge tolls for access. The related toll booths have been demolished.

Rail

High Bridge in Kentucky
High Bridge over the Kentucky River was the tallest rail bridge in the world when it was completed in 1877.

As of 2004, there were approximately 2,640 miles (4,250 km) of railways in Kentucky, with about 65% of those being operated by CSX Transportation. Coal was by far the most common cargo, accounting for 76% of cargo loaded and 61% of cargo delivered.

Bardstown features a tourist attraction known as My Old Kentucky Dinner Train. The Kentucky Railway Museum is located in nearby New Haven.

Other areas in Kentucky are reclaiming old railways in rail trail projects. One such project is Louisville's Big Four Bridge. When the bridge's Indiana approach ramps opened in 2014, completing the pedestrian connection across the Ohio River, the Big Four Bridge rail trail became the second-longest pedestrian-only bridge in the world. The longest pedestrian-only bridge is also found in Kentucky—the Newport Southbank Bridge, popularly known as the "Purple People Bridge", connecting Newport to Cincinnati, Ohio.

Air

Kentucky has several airports.

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport is the largest airport in the state, and is hub to passenger airline Delta Air Lines and headquarters of its Delta Private Jets. The airport is one of DHL Aviation's three super-hubs, serving destinations throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia, making it the 7th busiest airport in the U.S. and 36th in the world based on passenger and cargo operations.

Water

Barge hauling coal, Louisville and Portland Canal
A barge hauling coal in the Louisville and Portland Canal, the only manmade section of the Ohio River.

As the state is bounded by two of the largest rivers in North America, water transportation has historically played a major role in Kentucky's economy.

Louisville was a major port for steamships in the nineteenth century. Today, most barge traffic on Kentucky waterways consists of coal that is shipped from both the Eastern and Western Coalfields, about half of which is used locally to power many power plants located directly off the Ohio River, with the rest being exported to other countries, most notably Japan.

Many of the largest ports in the United States are located in or adjacent to Kentucky, including:

  • Huntington-Tristate (includes Ashland, Kentucky), largest inland port and 7th largest overall
  • Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky, 5th largest inland port and 43rd overall
  • Louisville-Southern Indiana, 7th largest inland port and 55th overall

The only natural obstacle along the entire length of the Ohio River is the Falls of the Ohio, located just west of Downtown Louisville.

Subdivisions and settlements

Major cities

LexingtonDowntown
Downtown Lexington
Shops along Fountain Square in Bowling Green, Kentucky 2008
Shops along Fountain Square in Bowling Green, Kentucky

In 2010, the Louisville Combined Statistical Area has a population of 1,451,564; including 1,061,031 in Kentucky, which is nearly one-fourth of the state's population.

The second largest city is Lexington with a population of 295,803.

The two other fast growing urban areas in Kentucky are the Bowling Green area and the "Tri Cities Region" of southeastern Kentucky, comprising Somerset, London and Corbin.

In northeast Kentucky, the greater Ashland area is an important transportation, manufacturing, and medical center. Iron and petroleum production, as well as the transport of coal by rail and barge, have been historical pillars of the region's economy.

The largest county in Kentucky by area is Pike, which contains Pikeville and suburb Coal Run Village. Pike County contains slightly over 68,000 people.

Economy

2012 Toyota Camry SE -- 02-29-2012
The best selling car in the United States, the Toyota Camry, is manufactured in Georgetown, Kentucky.
Ford F-150 XL SuperCrew -- 03-10-2010
The best selling truck in the United States, the Ford F-Series, is manufactured in Louisville, Kentucky.

Early in its history Kentucky gained recognition for its excellent farming conditions. It was the site of the first commercial winery in the United States (started in present-day Jessamine County in 1799) and due to the high calcium content of the soil in the Bluegrass region quickly became a major horse breeding (and later racing) area.

Today Kentucky ranks 5th nationally in goat farming, 8th in beef cattle production, and 14th in corn production. Kentucky has also been a long-standing major center of the tobacco industry – both as a center of business and tobacco farming.

Today Kentucky's economy has expanded to importance in non agricultural terms as well, especially in auto manufacturing, energy fuel production, and medical facilities.

Kentucky ranks 4th among U.S. states in the number of automobiles and trucks assembled. The Chevrolet Corvette, Cadillac XLR (2004–2009), Ford Escape, Ford Super Duty trucks, Ford Expedition, Lincoln Navigator, Toyota Camry, Toyota Avalon, Toyota Solara, Toyota Venza, and Lexus ES 350 are assembled in Kentucky.

Kentucky has historically been a major coal producer, but employment by "King Coal" has been in a 30-year decline there, and the number of people employed in the coal industry there dropped by more than half between 2011 and 2015.

As of 2010, 24% of electricity produced in the U.S. depended on either enriched uranium rods coming from the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant (the only domestic site of low grade uranium enrichment), or from the 107,336 tons of coal extracted from the state's two coal fields (which combined produce 4% percent of the electricity in the United States).

Kentucky produces 95% of the world's supply of bourbon whiskey, and the number of barrels of bourbon being aged in Kentucky (more than 5.7 million) exceeds the state's population. Bourbon has been a growing market – with production of Kentucky bourbon rising 170 percent between 1999 and 2015.

Kentucky exports reached a record $22.1 billion in 2012, with products and services going to 199 countries.

Fort Knox, a United States Army post best known as the site of the U.S. Bullion Depository, which is used to house a large portion of the United States official gold reserves, is located in Kentucky between Louisville and Elizabethtown.

Culture

Although Kentucky's culture is generally considered to be Southern, it is unique in that it is also influenced by the Midwest and Southern Appalachia in certain areas of the state. The state is known for bourbon and whiskey distilling, tobacco, horse racing, and college basketball. Kentucky is more similar to the Upland South in terms of ancestry that is predominantly American.

Kentucky was a slave state, and African Americans once comprised over one-quarter of its population. However, it lacked the cotton plantation system and never had the same high percentage of African Americans as most other slave states.

Kentucky adopted the Jim Crow system of racial segregation in most public spheres after the Civil War, but the state never disenfranchised African American citizens to the level of the Deep South states, and it peacefully integrated its schools adopting the first state civil rights act in the South in 1966.

Werne's Row 4th and Hill, Old Louisville
Old Louisville is the largest Victorian Historic neighborhood in the United States.

The biggest day in American horse racing, the Kentucky Derby, is preceded by the two-week Derby Festival in Louisville. Louisville also plays host to the Kentucky State Fair and the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival.

Bowling Green, the state's third-largest city and home to the only assembly plant in the world that manufactures the Chevrolet Corvette, opened the National Corvette Museum in 1994.

The fourth-largest city, Owensboro, gives credence to its nickname of "Barbecue Capital of the World" by hosting the annual International Bar-B-Q Festival.

Old Louisville, the largest historic preservation district in the United States featuring Victorian architecture and the third largest overall, hosts the St. James Court Art Show, the largest outdoor art show in the United States.

Hodgenville, the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, hosts the annual Lincoln Days Celebration.

Glasgow mimics Glasgow, Scotland by hosting the Glasgow Highland Games, its own version of the Highland Games, and Sturgis hosts "Little Sturgis", a mini version of Sturgis, South Dakota's annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

The residents of tiny Benton pay tribute to their favorite tuber, the sweet potato, by hosting Tater Day.

Residents of Clarkson in Grayson County celebrate their city's ties to the honey industry by celebrating the Clarkson Honeyfest. The Clarkson Honeyfest is held the last Thursday, Friday and Saturday in September, and is the "Official State Honey Festival of Kentucky".

Music

U.S. 23 Country Music Highway Museum
The U.S. 23 Country Music Highway Museum in Paintsville provides background on the country music artists from Eastern Kentucky

Renfro Valley, Kentucky is home to Renfro Valley Entertainment Center and the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and is known as "Kentucky's Country Music Capital".

Kentucky's music depth lies in its signature sound — Bluegrass music. Bill Monroe, "The Father of Bluegrass", was born in the small Ohio County town of Rosine. The International Bluegrass Music Museum is located in Owensboro, while the annual Festival of the Bluegrass is held in Lexington.

Kentucky is also home to famed jazz musician and pioneer, Lionel Hampton. Blues legend W. C. Handy and R&B singer Wilson Pickett also spent considerable time in Kentucky. Noted singer and actress Rosemary Clooney was a native of Maysville, her legacy being celebrated at the annual music festival bearing her name.

In eastern Kentucky, old-time music carries on the tradition of ancient ballads and reels developed in historical Appalachia.

Literature

Kentucky has played a major role in Southern and American literature, producing works that often celebrate the working class, rural life, nature, and explore issues of class, extractive economy, and family. Major works from the state include Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) by Harriet Beecher Stowe, widely seen as one of the impetuses for the American Civil War; The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come (1908) by John Fox, Jr., which was the first novel to sell a million copies in the United States; All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren (1946) rated as the 36th greatest novel by Modern Library; The Dollmaker (1954) by Harriette Arnow later adapted into a popular film starring Jane Fonda; Night Comes to the Cumberlands (1962) by Harry Caudill, which led to The War on Poverty, and others.

Hot Brown Kurtz

Cuisine

Kentucky's cuisine is generally similar to traditional southern cooking, although in some areas of the state it can blend elements of both the South and Midwest. One original Kentucky dish is called the Hot Brown, a dish normally layered in this order: toasted bread, turkey, bacon, tomatoes and topped with mornay sauce. Also, western Kentucky is known for its own regional style of barbecue.

Harland Sanders, a Kentucky colonel, originated Kentucky Fried Chicken at his service station in North Corbin, though the first franchised KFC was located in South Salt Lake, Utah.

Sports

University of Louisville marching band, Churchill Downs Twin Spires
Kentucky's Churchill Downs hosts the Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is a horse race held annually in Louisville on the first Saturday in May. The Valhalla Golf Club has hosted several editions of the PGA Championship, Senior PGA Championship and Ryder Cup since the 1990s.

The NASCAR Cup Series has a race at the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky, which is within an hour driving distance from Cincinnati, Louisville and Lexington. The race is called the Quaker State 400. The NASCAR Nationwide Series and the Camping World Truck Series also race there, and previously the IndyCar Series.

State symbols

See also: Flag of Kentucky
Insignia Symbol Binomial nomenclature Year Adopted
Official state bird Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis 1926
Official state butterfly Viceroy butterfly Limenitis archippus 1990
Official state dance Clogging 2006
Official state beverage Milk 2005
Official state fish Kentucky spotted bass Micropterus punctulatus 2005
Official state fossil Brachiopod undetermined 1986
Official state flower Goldenrod Soldiago gigantea 1926
Official state fruit Blackberry Rubus allegheniensis 2004
Official state gemstone Freshwater pearl 1986
State grass Kentucky bluegrass Poa pratensis Traditional
Official state motto "United we stand, divided we fall" 1942/1792
Official state slogan "United we stand, divided we fall" 2004
Official state Latin motto "Deo gratiam habeamus" ("Let us be grateful to God") 2002
Official state horse Thoroughbred Equus caballus 1996
Official state mineral Coal 1998
Official state outdoor musical The Stephen Foster Story 2002
Official state instrument Appalachian dulcimer 2001
State nickname "The bluegrass state" Traditional
Official state rock Kentucky agate 2000
Official state soil Crider soil series 1990
Official state tree Tulip poplar Liriodendron tulipifera 1994
Official wild animal game species Gray squirrel Sciurus carolinensis 1968
Official state song "My Old Kentucky Home" (revised version) 1928/1986
Official state silverware pattern Old Kentucky blue grass: the Georgetown pattern 1996
Official state music Bluegrass music 2007
Official state automobile Chevrolet Corvette 2010

Official state places and events

Unless otherwise specified, all state symbol information is taken from Kentucky State Symbols.

Kentucky colonel

Kentucky colonel is the highest title of honor bestowed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Commissions for Kentucky colonels are given by the Governor and the Secretary of State to individuals in recognition of noteworthy accomplishments and outstanding service to a community, state or the nation. The sitting governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky bestows the honor of a colonel's commission, by issuance of letters patent.

Education

See also: Education Reform in Kentucky, List of colleges and universities in Kentucky, List of high schools in Kentucky, and List of school districts in Kentucky
William T. Young Library
William T. Young Library at the University of Kentucky, Kentucky's flagship university.
Speed Engineering School, Louisville, Kentucky (1067)
The J.B. Speed School of Engineering at the University of Louisville, Kentucky's urban research university.

Kentucky maintains eight public four-year universities. There are two general tiers: major research institutions (the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville) and regional universities, which encompass the remaining six schools. The regional schools have specific target counties that many of their programs are targeted towards (such as Forestry at Eastern Kentucky University or Cave Management at Western Kentucky University), however, most of their curriculum varies little from any other public university.

The University of Kentucky (UK) and the University of Louisville (UofL) have the highest academic rankings and admissions standards although the regional schools aren't without their national recognized departments – examples being Western Kentucky University's nationally ranked Journalism Department or Morehead State University offering one of the nation's only Space Science degrees. UK is the flagship and land grant of the system and has agriculture extension services in every county. The two research schools split duties related to the medical field, UK handles all medical outreach programs in the eastern half of the state while UofL does all medical outreach in the state's western half.

The state's sixteen public two-year colleges have been governed by the Kentucky Community and Technical College System since the passage of the Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997, commonly referred to as House Bill 1. Before the passage of House Bill 1, most of these colleges were under the control of the University of Kentucky.

Transylvania University, a liberal arts university located in Lexington, was founded in 1780 as the oldest university west of the Allegheny Mountains.

Berea College, located at the extreme southern edge of the Bluegrass below the Cumberland Plateau, was the first coeducational college in the South to admit both black and white students, doing so from its very establishment in 1855. This policy was successfully challenged in the United States Supreme Court in the case of Berea College v. Kentucky in 1908. This decision effectively segregated Berea until the landmark Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.

There are 173 school districts and 1,233 public schools in Kentucky. For the 2010 to 2011 school year, there were approximately 647,827 students enrolled in public school.

Kentucky has been the site of much educational reform over the past two decades. In 1989 the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled the state's education system was unconstitutional. The response of the General Assembly was passage of the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) the following year. Years later, Kentucky has shown progress, but most agree that further reform is needed.

The West Virginia teachers' strike in 2018 inspired teachers in other states, including Kentucky, to take similar action.

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